How to Select a Medical Assistant Program in Higley Arizona
Once you have decided to join the gratifying field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant course in Higley AZ, it’s time to select a school that will provide the right training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating colleges so that you ultimately enroll in the best one? A number of potential students begin by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important issues also. You might choose to research a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more about that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a college you need to finish your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the schools you are assessing. And to assist you with that task, we have included several questions that you should ask each of the colleges on your “maybe” list. But before we start that review, let’s briefly talk about the role of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are available.
The Responsibilities of a Medical Assistant
The role of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Essentially their role is ensure that the Higley AZ hospitals, clinics and other medical care centers where they work operate successfully. Depending on the size or type of facility, they can be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are tasked with giving direct support to the physicians, nurses and other health practitioners but may also be found working in an office or at the front desk. A few of the potential responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
- Supplying basic support during exams and procedures
Even though Higley AZ medical assistants can perform almost any task they are authorized to under Arizona law, some elect to specialize in a specific area and earn certification. Two of the choices offered are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) made available by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Courses and Certification
Unlike many other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to have a college degree. However, a number of Higley AZ employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we’ll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are generally 2 choices available for a formal education. The first and shortest way to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a diploma or a certificate. These programs normally take about a year to complete, a few as little as six to nine months. They are designed to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to attain an Associate Degree, which are typically 2 year programs available at community and junior colleges in addition to vocational and technical schools. They are more expansive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They frequently have a practical component requiring an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a 4 year Bachelor’s Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
As stated previously, certification is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent idea for graduates who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in securing a position after graduation, but it can also enhance initial salary negotiations. Some potential Higley AZ employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained accredited formal training or certification. One of the most popular and arguably the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to apply for the CMA examination, an applicant must have graduated or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are offered also, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Schools
There are many accredited medical assistant programs offered online also. They are a good alternative for individuals who may not have the time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good choice for students who continue to work full-time while earning their degree or certificate. As an added benefit, some online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on campus options. Ancillary expenses such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be reduced also. Just keep in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can typically be carried out in area Arizona healthcare facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this approach to receiving your education may be the ideal option for you. With the online classes and the practical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant in Higley AZ is provided.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Prior to evaluating your medical assistant school options, you must decide which kind of credential you would like to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus near Higley AZ or online from home. Once those decisions have been made, you can start the process of comparing schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, a number of students confine their searches to the colleges that are closest to home with the cheapest tuitions. Although location and cost are important qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional issues that you need to explore when researching Arizona schools. To help you with that process, following are some questions that you need to ask about each of the schools you are thinking about before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are several great reasons to confirm that the school you enroll in is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the instruction you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you must complete an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged organizations for accreditation are the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) and the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES). If your school is not accredited by one of these agencies, you will not be eligible to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, many potential Higley AZ employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the School’s Passage Percentage? Most of the accredited Higley AZ area medical assistant colleges create their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. To start with, you must determine which of the certifications the colleges you are reviewing are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will need to enroll in a program focused on that certification. Next, learn what the school’s passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the means to help evaluate the quality of a school’s program. Of course programs with low rates are ones that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Programs are Available? As we previously covered, there are essentially two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and get entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is about one year. Or you can choose to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will require approximately two years to finish in a junior college or trade school. Whichever program you choose to enroll in, verify that the Higley AZ area colleges you are looking at provide the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Provided? Numerous Arizona medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with regional medical care providers. They are a great means to obtain hands-on practical experience and training. They can also assist students establish relationships within the Higley AZ health care community. And as an additional perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Supplied? Landing that very first job can be a daunting task for medical assistant school graduates unless they have a little assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are evaluating provide job placement assistance and find out what their placement rate is. If a program has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the health care community. It also suggests that it has a wide network of contacts in the Higley AZ area to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size might be an indicator of how much personal instruction you will receive throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to furnish greater access to teachers and face to face interaction. If practical, try to monitor a couple of classes before choosing a program in the Higley AZ area to observe what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue working full time, it’s important that the college you select offers classes that fit your schedule. If you need to go to classes at night or on weekends in Higley AZ, verify that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online college, but you will also need to schedule any internships or practical training that will be required. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Medical Assistant Program in Higley AZ
It’s essential to start your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant school that will furnish the appropriate training. Regardless if you’re objective is to begin a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to obtain the appropriate information on available programs before making your decision. There are such a large number of colleges offering training nowadays that you can make a selection based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, confirm that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the type of credential that you intend to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an online or on-campus school, make sure to ask the questions we have supplied in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the best program you can subsequently start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Higley AZ.
Why Did You Want to Be a Certified Medical Assistant?When prepping to interview for a medical assistant position, it's helpful to reflect on questions you might be asked. Among the questions that interviewers often ask candidates is "What drove you to decide on medical assistance as a career?". What the interviewer is trying to uncover is not only the personal reasons you may have for becoming a Medical Assistant, but also what characteristics and skills you have that make you exceptional at your profession. You will likely be asked questions pertaining specifically to medical assisting, in addition to a significant number of general interview questions, so you must ready some ideas about how you would like to respond to them. Because there are so many factors that go into selecting a career, you can answer this fundamental question in a variety of ways. When formulating an answer, aim to include the reasons the work appeals to you in addition to the strengths you possess that make you an outstanding medical assistant and the leading choice for the position. Don't make an effort to memorize an answer, but take down a few concepts and anecdotes that pertain to your own experiences and strengths. Reading through sample responses can help you to prepare your own thoughts, and inspire ideas of what to discuss to wow the interviewer.
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